Dear Friends in Christ,
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven, so writes the author of Ecclesiastes. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down and a time to build up… Everything has its season. If this is so, what are we to make of this season we are in?
As we settle into fall, so much of the landscape looks different to us—no rumble of school buses down our street on weekday mornings, no Pac-12 football on Saturdays, no getting dressed up for worship on Sundays. In many ways, this seems to be a season of disruption. Our normal routines have been turned upside down, as the pandemic dictates the rhythms of our work, school, and leisure. This is hard to bear. It may even seem like life will never go back to what it efore the pandemic.
But what if these days are a harbinger of a new season, one that abounds with renewal and joy? What if we are experiencing now is like the breaking of the soil in preparation for planting. Maybe this present suffering will, in God’s time, lead to renewed purpose. As the Psalmist writes: May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy. Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing,shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves. (Psalm 126:5-6).
This is our hope: that this present suffering is not worth comparing to the glory about to be revealed to us (see Romans 8:18). Our faith tells us that division, injustice, and isolation are not God’s will; that God’s will is for redemption and reconciliation; and that death is not the end. All of those things may describe this present season,yet we also know there is a time for healing and new birth.While it is difficult to find hope in times of despair, we know that it is possible. Remember that Jesus promised an Advocate, the Holy Spirit, to guide his disciples and remind us of his teachings (John 14).
Among those teachings in John 14, is to know the peace Jesus leaves with us, and to not let our hearts be troubled.
These are not empty words or platitudes. Jesus can tell us tonot be troubled because he knows what lies ahead, a new dawn, a new season, an end to suffering. If we hold fast to these words, to Christ’s promise, we will not only weather this storm, we will connect with what God is doing even now, in our very midst—preparing a harvest of joy for all eternity. All, of course, in due season.